Just a quick visit on a couple of timely topics…..
Ken Giles. Yay or Nay as the closer?
- We know he was putrid in the playoffs …. 0-2 with a 11.74 ERA and a seat at the far end of the bullpen by the end of the World Series.
- We know he is very shaky right now. He has a 4.50 ERA in four appearances that included only one save opportunity. That one out save opportunity almost ended up in a blown save and a 9.00 ERA on Monday night.
- We also know….he has started each of the last two seasons with the Astros with shaky Aprils that rolled into much better Mays thru Septembers. In 2016, Giles ended April with a 9.00 ERA, before putting up a 3.20 ERA and 15 saves over the rest of the season. Last season he had a 4.35 ERA in April, before posting a strong 1.89 ERA and 28 saves thereafter.
The choices are:
- To wait and see if Giles breaks out of this funk and gets some bite back in his slider that seemed to disappear with the “odd” playoff baseballs and make him the main closer.
- To move on to Brad Peacock, who has been tough in every situation and earned his first career save this last weekend. However, notice that when they tried to re-use Brad Monday night (rather than after a longer rest) he got into trouble and had to be rescued by Chris Devenski.
- To move on to Chris Devenski, who has been one of the most dependable bullpen arms since coming up in 2016. Just remember that Devo had a 9.00 ERA in the playoffs, though that might have been due to overuse.
- Go for an outside arm or a minor league arm.
- Keep passing the closer mantle back and forth and then use the 4th/5th starters to bolster the back of the bullpen in the playoffs.
Where is the Astros offense or are our memories short?
- OK – they are still 4th in runs scored in the AL, but after lapping the field in every offensive category last year, this season seems like a big drop-off.
- But the Astros’ early season offense in 2017 was not a fine oiled machine. Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman and Marwin Gonzalez all struggled through a mostly cold April.
- The Astros scored 4.4 runs per game in April and 5.74 runs for the following 137 games in 2017.
- The biggest concern may be the fact that the Astros, who had removed strikeouts from their vocabulary last season are currently the 14th worst team in the AL in Ks in 2018.
It does not take long to figure out why the Astros are not scoring well. They have a big stretch of their lineup from about #6 thru #9 and back around thru #1 and #2 (with the exception of the catcher spot) that is not hitting.
- Normal leadoff George Springer hit a home run in his first AB this season and has been over swinging ever since. (.182 BA/.260 OBP/ .578 OPS)
- Second half and playoff hero and normal #2 spot filler, Alex Bregman is walking but doing little else (.175 BA/.327 OBP/ .552 OPS and 0 HR)
- End of the lineup OFs Jake Marisnick (.179/.179/.571 with 13 Ks and 0 walks) and Derek Fisher (.167/ .192/ .526 with 12 Ks and 1 walk) have brought very little to the party as hitters while Fisher has had success as a pinch runner.
- Evan Gattis has held up the fine tradition of the Astros getting next to nothing out of their DH slot. (.212/.297/.631 and 0 HRs)
- J.D. Davis has looked more like A.J. Reed with an insanely bad slash line of .111 BA/.159 OBP/.268 OPS
The other side to this coin is to think of how much better this lineup will do when Yuli Gurriel is added back in and Springer and Bregman start to hit. Right now the team has ridden a hot Josh Reddick, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve (though he has 0 HR and only 3 RBIs) Brian McCann and Max Stassi and a lot of serendipity to the 4th spot in runs in the AL.
So where are you at on these two areas of discussion?